By Rabbi Daniel Lapin
April 7, 2011
The mother raising five youngsters is constantly cooking, cleaning, and comforting. Why? Because she believes that transforming these five little people into the best adults they can possibly become is her Divine purpose. That is why she proudly identifies herself as a mother.
Why does the Marine corporal face fearsome conditions with calm fortitude? Because he knows his purpose. That is why he proudly identifies himself as a Marine.
Similarly, someone in law enforcement might announce “I’m a cop,” and someone in a fire department calls himself a fireman. These are not merely occupations—they are purposes. Many doctors feel the same way when they say “I’m a doctor,” as do some lawyers.
Almost every choice confronting a mom or a Marine can be decided by weighing it up against orders, mission, and purpose. Even chores that seem mundane or menial are part of a greater goal.
However, for those of us who are neither moms nor Marines, life can be a little more confusing. We have our work, certainly, but it may not be our purpose. I may take pride in being a dentist, a driver, or a sales professional, but that doesn’t define me. Yet having a purpose makes navigating life’s choices so much clearer.
Once there lived an unimpressive individual named Sheva the son of Bichri who launched a rebellion against King David (II Samuel chapter 20). The king sent his general Yoav to kill Sheva who was hiding in a city close to the Jordan River. Yoav built a ramp against the city wall and began destroying the wall. Just then a mysterious old lady came out and summoned Yoav. She said to him, “I want you to listen to me,” and Yoav assured her that he was paying attention. She explained that Yoav was wrong to attack the entire city; he should have given them the opportunity to hand over Sheva. General Yoav quickly apologized. The elderly lady promised to send Sheva’s head to Yoav. She returned into the city and soon thereafter, Sheva’s head was delivered and the city was saved.
What made a powerful general apologize to an old lady and change his battle plans? Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that this venerable woman was a daughter of Asher, a granddaughter of Jacob, and she quoted to General Yoav this law from the Torah.
When you approach
a city to make war against it,
you shall call out for a peaceful surrender.
- Deuteronomy 20:10
In the face of this authoritative declaration, General Yoav stood corrected. As a general in King David’s army, his highest authority was God and His word. Yoav knew his purpose.
Remember when the sailors inquired of Jonah ‘What work do you do? Where do you come from? What passport do you carry? (Jonah 1:8) His answer seems strange but it satisfied them. He didn’t say I’m a photographer from Poland” or “I’m a prophet from Israel.” All Jonah said in response was, “I am a Jew and I fear the Lord God who created sea and land.” That was all he had to say. This told them that Jonah had a purpose. If he was avoiding it, that would explain the cause of the storm. Being a general and being a prophet were Yoav and Jonah’s ways of serving God; a tool for achieving their purpose.
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In my 2 audio CD set, Prosperity Power: Connect for Success, (on sale online right now) while giving practical tips on becoming more financially successful, I repeatedly stress the importance of truly understanding that one serves God by serving His children, whether as a general, a prophet or a cab-driver. Truly integrating your job and business with a higher purpose transforms the hours you spend working. Listen to this audio CD carefully while you drive, exercise or before going to sleep. Let the ideas sink into your soul.
We all have one, primary decision to make. Do I direct my life on the basis that God conveyed a message to mankind through Moses on Mt. Sinai or not? If yes, we have our purpose. Regardless of how we earn our living, we know what to do and why to do it.
© 2011 Rabbi Daniel Lapin - All Rights Reserved
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Rabbi Daniel Lapin, known world-wide as America's Rabbi, is a noted rabbinic scholar, best-selling author and host of the Rabbi Daniel Lapin Show on San Francisco’s KSFO. He is one of America’s most eloquent speakers and his ability to extract life principles from the Bible and transmit them in an entertaining manner has brought countless numbers of Jews and Christians closer to their respective faiths. In 2007 Newsweek magazine included him in its list of America’s fifty most influential rabbis.
You can contact Rabbi Daniel Lapin through his website.
Web Site: www.rabbidaniellapin.com